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Talent and the Minimum Wage

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:33 PM

Some ads airing in Missouri are accusing Jim Talent of being against raising the minimum wage. Others are claiming he has worked hard to support increases. My question is: who cares?

I know a lot of people think the minimum wage is the way to create a wonderful, almost utopian society where everyone makes a “living wage” that allows them to do what they want with their lives. The problem is that the minimum wage will never be able to provide a living wage for longer than a very brief period of time.

The problem is simple and involves two facts. First, those who actually “benefit” from the minimum wage are at the bottom of the corporate ladder — the laborers who make stuff and keep the machinery of business running. That means every product you buy probably has some minimum wage people dealing with it. Second, companies exist to make a profit and usually aim to make a certain margin of profit. Now, if the minimum wage workers make $1.00 more an hour, the company will (rightly) transfer that additional cost to the price tag of the product, since they need to maintain the margin of profit that keeps the company solvent (at the very least).

So, let's say Bob is a minimum wage worker and he makes ten widgets an hour. If he makes $6.00/hr and we hike the minimum wage to $10.00/hr (a “living wage”), we have added $.40 to the cost of the product. Put simply, on labor intensive products, the product may actually double in price if we double the minimum wage.

Now, when products start going up in price, everyone starts demanding raises to meet the rising costs. This further increases the rise in prices as the raises move further and further up the corporate chain to the very top. Soon, Bob may be making $10.00 in 2007 dollars, but those dollars are worth the same as $6.00 in 2006 dollars, since milk and bread now cost nearly twice as much to purchase. The big idea is that the minimum wage causes inflation. It comes no closer to giving everyone a “living wage” than a hamster comes to traveling across the country by running in his little wheel.

I've passed over an important issue thus far. In this consideration, I've assumed companies will always simply raise the price of a product when wage rates are forced up. That is not true; sometimes companies will simply cease production (or outsource to places with cheaper labor). For example, if the most people want to pay for a widget is $1.00 and an increase in the minimum wage forces the price up to $1.25, the company will necessarily stop making the product and then Bob and all of the other minimum wage workers simply won't have a job at all. Now, it is true that eventually (in most cases) inflation will level things out so that $1.25 is essentially what $1.00 use to be, but that takes time — time that can kill off a product. Moreover, if the industries affected by a wage hike are makers of non-essential items, demand for those items may simply cease rather than causing inflation.

I wish everyone could have a living wage, really, I do. But the simple fact is that it does not matter if Talent or anyone else supports increasing the minimum wage. Because of its close ties with inflation, you will never make the populous better off by arbitrarily increasing the minimum wage.

Science, Truth and Stem Cell Research

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 9:24 PM

I wrote an article on my take concerning Missouri Amendment 2 (the embryonic stem cells “cures” initiative), which is now published on OFB. I'm going to doing something no big name writer will offer: I will offer a quality guarantee on this article. If you can find fault with any of the major premises, I will do my best to defend my answer with hard, cold facts. If I cannot, I will make a retraction of the article. How's that for a guarantee?

I'm mostly preaching to the choir on my blog, I suspect, but hopefully this article might prove useful to someone (if nothing else, if somehow you've missed the whole debate on the issue). I don't claim to say anything new, but I do think this article is unique thanks to my guarantee. In fact, maybe in the future I'll guarantee all of my articles with this guarantee. :)

Liar: McCaskill and the Cloning Amendment

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:36 AM

There is no doubt that senate hopeful and State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D-MO) knows how to play dirty. After her attack campaign that allowed her to beat Gov. Bob Holden in the 2004 Democratic Primary, my dad — a dyed in wool Democrat — refused to vote for her in the general election, instead going Republican. McCaskill has been and continues to be willing to bend the truth to the breaking point for her politics of personal gain. I've been pretty calm on politics lately, but I just felt sick this morning listening to McCaskill.

She, like others promoting “Amendment 2 - Life Saving Cures,” has been trying to fool those who do not know better into thinking voting yes on this amendment will not protect cloning in Missouri — that it will actually ban cloning. I knew she's been saying that, but hearing her say it live on KMOX 1120 with Charles Brennon this morning just made me want to scream through the radio.

FACT: The bill protects Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. This is cloning. When you create an embryo that has identical genetic information to the person who wants the “cure” (if there is such a thing to come out of this research), what exactly do you call that other than cloning? If you do not think SCNT is cloning, then be prepared to say Dolly the Sheep was not a clone.

FACT: The bill is both anti-life and anti-choice. Once the clone has been produced, it must be aborted. That not only proves disturbing for pro-lifers, but it should also bother pro-choice abortion proponents who normally advocate this so-called “right” out of a desire to promote freedom. If that is really the case, how do you support this?

FACT: None of this research is presently banned in Missouri, this bill only rolls out the red carpet to cloning research. By voting on this bill, you insure that scientists will be able to get better at human cloning, making it more and more likely a human clone will be born in the future.

THINK. Is this what the advocates of the amendment are telling you? I CHALLENGE ANYONE who thinks they can disprove any of these facts to do so.

(Incidentally, I liked the new commercial for Senator Talent that had him explain his rejection of Amendment 2, but I'd urge anyone on the fence not to see this as a Republican vs. Democrats issue. Even if you insist on voting for Auditor McCaskill for senator, you can still reject Amendment 2.)

Independent Democrat

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:37 AM

That's what Sen. Joe Lieberman is running as now that he lost the Democratic primary. I have to feel sorry for him — it surely is pretty bad going from being the VP nominee of your party to losing the primary for your seat that you've held for 18 years in just six year. Ouch!

Nevertheless, I wonder if there is room for the Joe Liebermans of politics in the country we live in. Social conservatives such as myself would not vote for him because of his pro-choice position on abortion. Conversely, Democrats despise him for his support of the Iraqi war and his generally friendly attitude toward more conservative politicians. His seemingly genuine adherence to nearly-Orthodox Judaism has made him unusual among the powerbrokers of the Democratic party, and probably hurt as much as it helped.

It'll be interesting to see if a Lieberman unencumbered by a particular party is able to win, and if he is, whether he moves right at all.

TQ: Privacy and National Security

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:25 PM

This week's TQ from Mark is on privacy. Feel free to respond below.

1.To what extent do you believe our govt is eavesdropping on you?

I think they probably intercept some, though not all, of my electronic correspondence. I doubt any of it has been looked at by a live person, however.

2.Do you think the govt has gone too far in the name of national security?

Yes. Though I have not experienced any problems due to PATRIOT Act issues, I would assert it provides far too much freedom for the government. Wiretaps should be used only when shown to be necessary before a judge and detentions should be impossible without pressing charges.

3.Have you taken any steps to protect your privacy?

In general, I try to keep my data secure, but not out of concern that the Feds will come looking for my information. I just don't want script kiddies breaking in. I don't encrypt e-mail or anything like that.

4.Comment on this picture.

I think it relays what many think less privacy will accomplish. Realistically, I don't have a lot of faith that our national security reforms are actually going to work to improve security. Especially with the amount of illegal immigration — if that many people can sneak into the country, how are we going to stop a few terrorists?

5.3.Will personal privacy ever be restored, or will things continue to decay?

As technology advances, it will become increasingly easy to create a police state. While I'm not entirely pessimistic about the future, I do expect that we will have less privacy in the future than the past.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

The Miers Mire

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:21 PM

I have to admit (perhaps much to the pleasure of my left leaning friends), I gotta wonder what Dubya is doing. Why on earth would he pick Miers? Now its leaked out that in 1989 she publicly noted her support for a pro-life measure. That's all well and good, I'm pro-life as all of you know, but it is judicial suicide. The administration is going to end up spending massive amounts of political capital on someone I can just about guarantee cannot get into the court unless there are swine defying gravity in the vicinity.

I think the court needs good pro-life justices (although I would argue what it really needs are justices that don't come up with fictional constitutional rights, and if that were the case, they would have to be pro-life), but they really need to be the types that don't have their name next to any pro-life causes. One who does can easily be filibustered to death in the senate. Moreover, Miers was already a weak pick since she has no real qualifications to make up for what the Left will now see as a major blemish on her. How did the same team that picked John Roberts pick Harriet Miers? I know there were rumors that they wanted a female nominee, but that does not explain why they didn't pick a woman with stronger credentials (the White House, in the past, has been good at that considering picks such as Condi Rice).

This is topped by the White House's idiotic attempts to win the Right by advertising Miers religious piety. I don't want to be told about that, all that does is make the president look like he's making a double standard. Now the Dems are going to judge every nominee's religiousness negatively even more than before. Sheesh.

For those, like me, of the Right, we have a serious problem. As the saying goes, if these are our friends, we hardly need enemies. I predict a Democratic landslide in 2006, unless we get our collective acts together.

Mostly Good News for the CDU

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 3:44 PM

I'm rather pleased to see the Christian Democrat Union (CDU), with Angela Merkle at the helm, has come out ahead in Germany. I am disappointed that she was not able to get the 40% that would have been necessary to allow the “preferred” coalition that has been talked about over the past few weeks, but even if she must work with Schroeder's Social Democrats, it will at least force the left to accept some of CDU's ideas. Perhaps this bodes well for the CDU's pro-life platform plank?

Real ID Act

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:10 PM
“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
— Revelation 13:16-17 (NIV)

Ok, so I'm not going to say the newly approved Federal Real ID system will be the mark of the beast. But that is not going to make me like the idea of a federally run ID system in the United States. I don't like the idea of carrying around a smart card that I must present to open a bank account or get on an airplane. How much information do I want the government to have?

I just happened to run across an Flash advert from the ACLU today (see here). It is well done and somewhat amusing. But it also demonstrates the frightening possibilities of a nationally connected ID database. Sure, I don't think the local Pizza Hut is going to start worrying about my health soon, but a little hyperbole hardly invalidates the point of the ad. Yes, let the record show that I agree with the ACLU on this.

Interesting… there are many signs of the apocalypse occurring at the moment. First, there was the case a week or two ago when I found myself agreeing with Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, now I find myself agreeing with the ACLU. What's next? Four horsemen doing a cross country tour?

Voting

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:02 AM

Municipal elections are always disappointing; it never seems like there is enough to vote on to make it worth one's while to come in. Take today: there was some construction at the church where my precinct is, so I had to walk a ways to the entrance, then wait while they looked up my record and so on. It probably took five minutes from the car until I received my ballot. I then went to the Vote-o-Matic and was pushing my ballot into the ballot box less than one minute later. sigh

At least I got one of those nice “I Voted” stickers out of the deal.

A Statement on the State (of the Union)

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:44 PM

I'm not feeling energetic enough to give Dubya a full review this year, but I'll just say he did an excellent job. Every year he gets better at presenting the State of the Union. I just wish I could have been there.

Our president laid out a confident, clear plan of what needs to happen in Iraq before we leave, the need to modernize social security, the need to vote on judges in the Senate and much more. Of course, he also threw in another nod toward lowering dependence on foreign oil, a push for the Marriage Protection (Constitutional) Amendment and acknowledgment of the need to protect life at every stage.

There was not anything surprising but it was good. It was much more of a nuts-and-bolts domestic issue kind of speech rather than the philosophical champion of freedom style of speech that we had two weeks ago at the Inauguration. That's not to say that Iraq did not get significant attention (or that there weren't some not so veiled threats went out to Syria and Iran), but that international issues were not the main focus of the speech. I expect the big discussion point in the coming days to be Social Security Privatization rather than the “Axis of Evil” or Iraqi Interim government plans, as the discussion went the last two years.

What did you think?

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